NPR, July 16, 2018
Scott Neuman and Rob Schmitz

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Two years after China officially ended its one-child policy in order to counter the country's aging society and shrinking workforce, Chinese couples are not having babies fast enough.

In 2017, there were 17.6 million births in China, representing 12.43 births per thousand people. However, that was a drop from 2016, when the one-child policy was first relaxed – a year that saw 12.95 births per 1,000 people.

The difficulty in quickly turning things around results from the old policy's successes as well as its failures.

Promulgated in 1979 by Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, the one-child policy was an effort to ensure that China's population did not hold back its economic development.

By 2016, China's leadership faced the opposite problem and implemented a two-child policy in hopes of spurring births.

The latest drop in the birth rate, according to demographer Chen Youhua from Nanjing University quoted in The South China Morning Post, is due to a fall in the number of women of childbearing age. There are fewer childbearing women because of the lower birth rates in the 1990s, when the one-child policy was in full swing. [...]

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